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Snipers Rifles


tjec
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Hi,

Does anybody have information on a large calibre snipers rifle used to penetrate the German Snipers armoured shield? I think the calibre was one of the types manufactured by Jeffreys for "elephant" shooting.

Regards,

Norman

Hesketh-Prichard in "Sniping In France" mentions .333 Jeffrey in this context several times, along with "various kinds" of elephant guns, all of which when used against captured examples of the shields "pierced them like butter".

I've no ballistics for the .333, but I think most hunters would say it was light for elephant, probably more suitable for big bears and such like in the game field - say 60 - 80% more powerful than the standard .303 round, and maybe comparable with the current .338-06.

Regards,

MikB

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Hi,

Does anybody have information on a large calibre snipers rifle used to penetrate the German Snipers armoured shield? I think the calibre was one of the types manufactured by Jeffreys for "elephant" shooting.

Regards,

Norman

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Large calibre rifles of a number of types, including Jeffery's, were utilised to overcome the problem of German sniper shields that were impervious to the early .303 AP types, Mark VIIS, VIIP and VIIF.

The full story of these will be in Part 3 of my "Secondary Small Arms" series due to be published shortly, but this is a quick synopsis.

From the beginning of the war a number of officers had taken their personal big game rifles to France and used them in the trenches. The two best known are Hesketh-Pritchard ("Sniping in France") and Crum who used a .416" Rigby. H-P particularly liked the Jeffery's .333 round. There has been a recent thread about this.

In September 1915 the War Office asked gunmakers to supply as many express rifles as possible, preferably in .470 calibre, but by December had only managed to acquire 52. These were in a variety of calibres up tio .600 Nitro Express.

The War Office then changed its mind as the commercial rifles were too expensive and considered re-barrelling some Pattern 13 rifles in .470 but this proved unsuccessful.

The express rifles were used in the trenches but were unpopular with the troops for a number of reasons. Heavy recoil neant they had to be fired standing, the blast was distinctive and immediately call down a German trench mortar barrage. However, they seemed to have seen reasonable use as there are a number of contracts let for re-loading the ammunition, including the .600 Nitro. Also Kynoch's supplied 10,000 rounds of .470 in August 1916.

Jeffrey's calibres used were .333, .450 and .500. There is also a reference to a ".300 for .333" Mauser" Jeffery's round. No such commercial round exists, and whilst this may be a clerical error, a single example of an unheadstamped .333 Jeffery's necked down to .30 is known so it is possible they were indeed made to a military order.

These are some of the rounds used.

1 .303 ball for comparison

2 .500 Nitro 3"

3 .500 Nitro 3 1/4"

4 .450 Nitro 3 1/4"

5 .450 No.2 Nitro

6 .475 No.2 Nitro

7 .475 No.2 Jeffery's Nitro

The whole thing stopped with the introduction of the .303 VIIW armour piercing round which could penetrate the Sniper shields with relative ease at the ranges at which most tench sniping took place.

Regards

TonyE

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With respect to muzzle energies, the .303 Mark VII delivers 2320 ft.lbs (174 grn bullet at 2450 fps), whilst the .333 Jeffries yields 50% more with 3480 ft.lbs (250 grns at 2500 fps).

Neither of these compare with the big bore express cartridges. The .450 No.2 Jeffery gives 5140 ft.lbs (500 grn bullet at 2150 fps) and the .600 Nitro Express 7600 ft.lbs (900 grns at 1950 fps).

MikB - You mention the .338-06. This is a wildcat developed by A-Square and give 3558 ft.lbs with a 200 grn bullet at 2830 fps. This is not the cartridge used in the curent L115A1 anti-material rifle. That is the .338 Lapua Magnum which is considerably more powerful, giving 4997 ft.lbs from a 250 grn bullet at 3000 fps.

I appreciate delivered energy is not everything when it comes to penetration, but I would not like to be behind any sort of shield hit with a .600 NE!

Regards

TonyE

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.... at the ranges at which most tench sniping took place.

Sounds like shooting fish in a barrel ..... :D

Thanks, as ever, Tony, for a brilliantly informative response.

Mick

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Anybody have pics of either the 0.333 Jeffrey or the 0.416 Rigby rifles? Could you direct me to a web page that does? I checked my "usual suspects" - the REME collection, "Military Surplus Rifles", et. al. pages.

All the best,

Dan

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With respect to muzzle energies, the .303 Mark VII delivers 2320 ft.lbs (174 grn bullet at 2450 fps), whilst the .333 Jeffries yields 50% more with 3480 ft.lbs (250 grns at 2500 fps).

MikB - You mention the .338-06. This is a wildcat developed by A-Square and give 3558 ft.lbs with a 200 grn bullet at 2830 fps. This is not the cartridge used in the curent L115A1 anti-material rifle. That is the .338 Lapua Magnum which is considerably more powerful, giving 4997 ft.lbs from a 250 grn bullet at 3000 fps.

I appreciate delivered energy is not everything when it comes to penetration, but I would not like to be behind any sort of shield hit with a .600 NE!

Regards

TonyE

Thanks Tony - well-informed as ever. But I think the .333 Jeffreys / .338-06 comparison is supported by the data you gave; the latter also does around 2500 when loaded with a 250 grain bullet. Since the .338-06 has appeared in standard reloading manuals for decades now, I dunno if it's still fair to call it a wildcat.

Of course the 338 LapMag is a considerably more substantial proposition, but 5k ft.lb rifles will generally start to impose the issues which made the big Expresses unpopular in H-P's time, as well as undermining some of the sniper's important survival tools - mobility and flexibility. In the sort of terrain, and against the type of enemy western armies are currently fighting, a tradeoff of mobility in favour of range has pragmatic value, but I doubt H-P would've thought it paid off in his war.

Regards,

MikB

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MikB

Sorry, I was not arguing against your case, merely giving the figures. I accept that the .338-06 is well known, but its still a wildcat to me (but then I don't pretend to know much about commercial ammo!).

Dan - both the .416 Rigby and the .333 Jeffery were used in proprietary Mauser actioned sporting rifles, the Rigby being what they termed "Magnum Mauser" actions. Neither would look that different from any number of similar sporting rifles built on Mauser actions by English gunsmiths.

The famous photograph of Major Crum holding what is alleged to be a .416 Rigby shows what appears to be a Lee Enfield style bolt action rifle, but I am still not sure exactly what it is.

The REME collection is of course mostly military weapons, and the catalogue descriptions often leave much to be desired. Also the weapons have been looked after in true army fashion. Over the years as they have become worn, many have been "re-blued" by painting with army black Suncorite type paint! Having said that, they do have one or two nice pieces, including a Farquhar-Hill self loader in reasonable condition that was tested by the Small Arms Committee prior to WWI.

Regards

TonyE

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My interest in these rifles was related to my hobby of sculpting and building miniature soldier figures of the Great War. This forum has assisted me many times in the past in identifying items I was interested in sculpting. See the ART section to see some of my stuff.

Anyways I was just attempting to identify the rifles, acquire enough photographs from enough different views, plus measurements to be able to sculpt them in the future. No specific project in mind...just casting about.

FYI Jon Smith (Jon Smith Modellbau) has already sculpted a superb 1/16th figure of a famous British sniper officer. I'm sorry I don't remember the name of the officer.

All the best,

Dan

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John - Thanks for the suggestion, but, um...I live in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Would you happen to know the e-mail address of the weapons curator for the museum? I've had some success talking with them via e-mail and obtaining photos, etc.

All the best,

Dan

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Mick D - You have got some of your numbers confused.

Standard bullet weight for 9mm is 115 or 125 grns, with some going up to 180 grains for subsonic silencer loads. Also the 7.62mm Nato standard ball round is 144 grns.

The .600 NE does have a fierce recoil, but I assure you it is manageable in standing position. After all, trying to shoot it prone when facing a charging rhino or elephant is not the brightest idea I have heard. The trick is to lean into the rifle and roll back with the recoil.

There seems to be little doubt that the Germans did indeed reverse their bullets occasionally, but this would certainly have been at the expense of accuracy. Whether this was to obtain better penetration or not I am unsure. The only reason that I can think of why it would work is that a better purchase is obtained on striking the target by the soft lead at the base of the bullet. Many early designs of AP bullet had a lead tip exposed for this reason.

Finally, can I make a plea about something that bugs me. I am not trying to be rude but can we refer to a bullet as a bullet. It is not a bullet head. The head of a cartridge is the base part surrounding the cap chamber - hence headstamp. Sorry, end of rant!

Best regards

TonyE

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Whether this was to obtain better penetration or not I am unsure. The only reason that I can think of why it would work is that a better purchase is obtained on striking the target by the soft lead at the base of the bullet. Many early designs of AP bullet had a lead tip exposed for this reason.

Best regards

TonyE

It may be that the flat base of the bullet placed the circular area of armour it struck in shear, with the prospect of punching it out whilst only having to tear its circumference. When driving a pointy thing through a resistant medium, the resistance increases as the point has more and more material to compress away from its path. With the armour on loopholes and early tanks being just thick enough to stop standard ball rounds, there might have been situations where a shear penetration was just possible...

Beeswax on the bodkin point, soft steel caps on the AP shot, and the lead tip of an AP smallarms round all conceal a hardened point waiting to do work on the armour, and this is absent in a reversed ball round.

For these reasons, I've been convinced by the argument that this was done for penetration rather than stopping power. I believe it had been commented that there were feeding problems with reversed-bullet rounds in rifle mags, and I think that would strengthen the case.

Regards,

MikB

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British 9mm Mark 2z was 115 grains, but as it has not been manufactured inthe UK since about 1988 we have been dependent on foreign contract ammo (How appalling is that?). Much of this was also 115 grn, but a lot of the Austrian made L7A1 and L12A1, and German L10A1 was 124 grn.

The 7.62 x 51 standard Nato L2A2 is 144 grn, but the target ammo made by RG is now 185 grns (L42A1, 2 and 3).

The original 5.56mm M193 ball was 55 grns as you say, but this has been replaced by the 5.56mm Nato loading that is the equivalent of the Belgian SS109 with a weight of 62 grns. British L2A1 and L2A2 ball conforms with this, although again some of the foreign contract ball in British service varies slightly in weight.

We seem to have come a long way from WWI counter sniper rifles!

Regards

Tony

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Dear TonyE,

Thanks to you (and everbody else) for the information. I have a copy of the 1928 Jeffery catalogue which shows (amongst others) a .300 Calibre Jeffery Mauser Action, with five shot magazine, 26in. round nickel steel barel, weight about 7 3/4 lbs. No.1 Model costs 22 pounds 10 shillings and a No. 2 Model 27 pounds 10 shillings. It also mentions the calibre as being .300 U.S. Government cartridge model 1906, muzzle velocity 3,000 feet per second, muzzle energy 3,045 foot pounds.

I will "try" and master the art of scanning the images of some of the rifles mentioned in the replies. Please be patient!

Regards,

Norman

P.S. I have a 1926 Jeffery side by side boxlock 12 bore still in superb condition.

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The .300" cartridge mentioned is of course the venerable .30-06 US military cartridge that saw widespread use as a sporting round in America, although less so in Britain and the Empire. I guess this was partly because it was an American cartridge and partly because English gunsmiths like Jeffery, Rigby et al. liked to chamber thier rifles for their own propriatary cartridges. Having said that, many of these were actually well known cartridges with some kind of patent bullet. The .275 Rigby was actually a 7 x 57mm Mauser.

Jeffery did design the .333 though as he did the .404, although the .500 Jeffery Rimless was actually a 12.7 x 70mm Schuler.

This is an early .333 jeffery round.

Many of these rounds were chambered in Jeffery's famous falling block action.

I hope you use your boxlock, they are beautiful shotguns.

Regards

TonyE

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Hello Tony,

I certainly do use the Jeffery. In the past I have also used a Vickers, Bren, several types of SMLE'S, SLR, Webley pistols, Colt 45 and 357 magnum.

One thing I cannot do though is put photos/images into a reply. How did you get such quality photos to stick?

Regards,

Norman

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Generally the board is OK to post photos but I have found it somewhat fickle at times. The important thing is to keep them below 100K, otherwise they will not post.

If the photos are too large (in storage) I use either Adobe Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro to re-size them to a lower resolution.. What I have not cracked is why some post as a reasonable physical size, whilst another that has the same system attributes posts four times larger!

Some of the photos I post are from my own digital pictures if I have them on file, but if something comes up on the board and I need to quickly post a picture of a cartridge from my collection I simply put it on the scanner. The Jeffrey's .333 in the last post was a scan.

I spend most of my time researching and writing on ammunition these days and very rarely shoot. In the last forty years I have fired just about anything I ever wanted to from a Gatling to 20mm Lahtis. Never mind, that was in the "good old days".

Regards

TonyE

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Dear Tony,

I was wondering if you knew about this web site

http://forums.nitroexpress.com/

It has a section on ammunition/reloading, etc. It is

a very interesting site, especially the double rifles

and photos.

Regards,

Norman

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Hello Dan Morton,

This is a web link to a Rigby .416

http://www.schwandtclassicarms.com/magnifi...rigby_416_b.htm

This is a web link to a .333 Jeffery

http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/content/...p;cm_ite=netcon

Regards,

Norman

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  • 2 weeks later...
Large calibre rifles of a number of types, including Jeffery's, were utilised to overcome the problem of German sniper shields that were impervious to the early .303 AP types, Mark VIIS, VIIP and VIIF.

The full story of these will be in Part 3 of my "Secondary Small Arms" series due to be published shortly, but this is a quick synopsis.

From the beginning of the war a number of officers had taken their personal big game rifles to France and used them in the trenches. The two best known are Hesketh-Pritchard ("Sniping in France") and Crum who used a .416" Rigby. H-P particularly liked the Jeffery's .333 round. There has been a recent thread about this.

In September 1915 the War Office asked gunmakers to supply as many express rifles as possible, preferably in .470 calibre, but by December had only managed to acquire 52. These were in a variety of calibres up tio .600 Nitro Express.

The War Office then changed its mind as the commercial rifles were too expensive and considered re-barrelling some Pattern 13 rifles in .470 but this proved unsuccessful.

The express rifles were used in the trenches but were unpopular with the troops for a number of reasons. Heavy recoil neant they had to be fired standing, the blast was distinctive and immediately call down a German trench mortar barrage. However, they seemed to have seen reasonable use as there are a number of contracts let for re-loading the ammunition, including the .600 Nitro. Also Kynoch's supplied 10,000 rounds of .470 in August 1916.

Jeffrey's calibres used were .333, .450 and .500. There is also a reference to a ".300 for .333" Mauser" Jeffery's round. No such commercial round exists, and whilst this may be a clerical error, a single example of an unheadstamped .333 Jeffery's necked down to .30 is known so it is possible they were indeed made to a military order.

These are some of the rounds used.

1 .303 ball for comparison

2 .500 Nitro 3"

3 .500 Nitro 3 1/4"

4 .450 Nitro 3 1/4"

5 .450 No.2 Nitro

6 .475 No.2 Nitro

7 .475 No.2 Jeffery's Nitro

The whole thing stopped with the introduction of the .303 VIIW armour piercing round which could penetrate the Sniper shields with relative ease at the ranges at which most tench sniping took place.

Regards

TonyE

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Dear TonyE

An interesting item on the large calibre sniping rifles, for some years I had a .470 Express marked to the 1st Grenadier Guards, and oh, how I regret selling it. I am just starting on the last of my sniping trilogy, and I wonder if I might use the image of the big-game ammunition you have used ?

regards

Martin Pegler

[ex-curator of fireamrs, the Royal Armouries Museum and occasional sniping author]

PS if anyone wants to get in touch with the Armouries in Leeds, their website lists all the contact emails.

Large calibre rifles of a number of types, including Jeffery's, were utilised to overcome the problem of German sniper shields that were impervious to the early .303 AP types, Mark VIIS, VIIP and VIIF.

The full story of these will be in Part 3 of my "Secondary Small Arms" series due to be published shortly, but this is a quick synopsis.

From the beginning of the war a number of officers had taken their personal big game rifles to France and used them in the trenches. The two best known are Hesketh-Pritchard ("Sniping in France") and Crum who used a .416" Rigby. H-P particularly liked the Jeffery's .333 round. There has been a recent thread about this.

In September 1915 the War Office asked gunmakers to supply as many express rifles as possible, preferably in .470 calibre, but by December had only managed to acquire 52. These were in a variety of calibres up tio .600 Nitro Express.

The War Office then changed its mind as the commercial rifles were too expensive and considered re-barrelling some Pattern 13 rifles in .470 but this proved unsuccessful.

The express rifles were used in the trenches but were unpopular with the troops for a number of reasons. Heavy recoil neant they had to be fired standing, the blast was distinctive and immediately call down a German trench mortar barrage. However, they seemed to have seen reasonable use as there are a number of contracts let for re-loading the ammunition, including the .600 Nitro. Also Kynoch's supplied 10,000 rounds of .470 in August 1916.

Jeffrey's calibres used were .333, .450 and .500. There is also a reference to a ".300 for .333" Mauser" Jeffery's round. No such commercial round exists, and whilst this may be a clerical error, a single example of an unheadstamped .333 Jeffery's necked down to .30 is known so it is possible they were indeed made to a military order.

These are some of the rounds used.

1 .303 ball for comparison

2 .500 Nitro 3"

3 .500 Nitro 3 1/4"

4 .450 Nitro 3 1/4"

5 .450 No.2 Nitro

6 .475 No.2 Nitro

7 .475 No.2 Jeffery's Nitro

The whole thing stopped with the introduction of the .303 VIIW armour piercing round which could penetrate the Sniper shields with relative ease at the ranges at which most tench sniping took place.

Regards

TonyE

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Just a thought for TonyE, in your reply you mentioned

In September 1915 the War Office asked gunmakers to supply as many express rifles as possible, preferably in .470 calibre, but by December had only managed to acquire 52. These were in a variety of calibres up tio .600 Nitro Express.

I may be able to throw light on the limited number (52) of rifles acquired. D. Leonard & Sons of Birmingham produced the majority of the "big bore" rifles for the UK Makers, this included Jeffery, Rigby, Hollis, Wilkinson, etc., and 52 was probably about the maximum they could have produced.

There is a thread on the Jeffery/Leonard double rifles on the web site mentioned previously. Stuart Leonard, Gt. Gt. Gt. Grandson of Daniel and I have worked together for the last 20 years, therefore my interest.

Regards,

Norman

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